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Collaborative Negotiation


Disciplines > Negotiation > Negotiation Styles > Collaborative Negotiation

Win-win | Joint problem-solving | Collaborative strategy | See also


In collaborative negotiation (also called constructive, principled or interest-based negotiation), the approach is to treat the relationship as an important and valuable element while seeking an equitable and fair agreement (as opposed to always conceding in order to sustain the relationship).


The competitive approach to negotiation assumes a fixed pie, zero-sum, win-lose situation. In collaborative negotiation, it is assumed that the pie can be enlarged by finding things of value to both parties, thus creating a win-win situation where both parties can leave the table feeling that they have gained something of value.

Fair process

As humans we have a deep need for fairness, and when this does not happen, even if we emerge as winners from a competitive negotiation, the result is not truly satisfying. The most comfortable result from a negotiation happens when our needs are met, including the need for fairness.

Joint problem-solving

The collaborative approach to negotiation seeks to convert individual wants into a single problem and to bring both parties together to work on solving this problem.

By converting individual positions and wants into separated problems, the people can be freed up from jealous and personal attachment to their requirements so they can then take a more objective and equitable position from which they can act in a more collaborative way.

Collaborative strategy

Being collaborative does not mean being weak and giving in. On the contrary, a collaborative approach seeks to gain the best possible solution.

Transparency and trust

Whilst you may not give away all of your information, deceptive practices need to be curtailed if trust is to be gained. A simple way of eliminating suspicion is to be open and transparent, giving information before it is requested.

When the other person is competitive

The biggest dilemma occurs when the other person is acting competitively, and will try to take advantage of your collaborative approach (possibly seeing it as a weakness).

The approach with aggressive others is to be assertive and adult rather than fall into the fight-or-flight reaction, for example naming attempts at deception and showing your strength whilst offering an olive branch. A critical preparation for this is to have your fall-back alternative to a negotiated agreement ready, and to show that you are prepared to use it.

See also

Competitive negotiation, The Need for Fairness, Assertiveness, Creating a Constructive Negotiation Climate

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